Monthly Archives: July 2009

Am I Sure?

First, read Ken Rockwell‘s fun article, How to Spot an Amateur.

So, according to Ken Rockwell, which of these identify you as an amateur?

1) Backpack
2) Carrying too much stuff
3) Polarizer over UV filter, or polarizer used all the time
4) Midrange zoom
5) Camera worn directly over the neck
6) Clean gear
7) New DSLR
8) Lens cap and lens keepers
9) Using a tripod in daylight
10) LCD magnifier
11) Beepers
12) Camera brand strap showing logo
13) Hood on backwards
14) Tripods, fast lenses and high ISOs

I mostly agree with his points – I never liked backpacks that make you look like turtles, I never liked lens caps (except for my Peleng 8mm F3.5 circular fisheye, where you simply cannot get a protective filter for it) and I don’t like that AF focus confirm beep. Funny how people will brag how silent their focus is but the beep is still there!

I don’t bring lens hoods because all you need to combat flare is to know where to stand and where to stretch out your hand. I don’t need no tripod either with SteadyShot built-in!

I have been carrying only my midrange zoom (Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D)) a lot lately because it’s the best fit for my Sony LCS-WR1AM wrapping cloth.

I also have a New DSLR worn directly over the neck (when shooting, but when not shooting it goes over diagonally.) I recently reversed the camera brand strap so it blends in with the look of the wrapping cloth.

So yeah, 3 out of 14 points. 21.4% amateur! (It would be more fun if he had made it an online poll.)

Awesome Postum!

Happy Birthday Taste Buddy!

Yes, we share similiar taste buds from the way we discovered that we eat Indomee Goreng with Telur Atas in the exact same way and have a predisposition towards Nando’s and cheese naan and tandoori chicken.

She is often referred to as Spongey. I wonder why.

However, age determines that I do not listen to Paramore, but she (and Darren) do, and buy shirts.

Location also brought her up to be a gangster (raised in Hong Kong and Klang, don’t mess!)

Somehow, that might explain why she looks so cool at pool…

…even when she’s not playing it.

Legs forever!

Lucky 8

Lucky are those who know what this is.

Lucky are those who see the light. (Well Ein is usually unlucky but this will hopefully, change his tide.)

The happy-go-lucky crew at Tarita Low Yat.

Lucky A.R.

Chappati-consuming man asks, “are you feelin’ lucky?

Lucky are those who are photogenic…

…and know it.

And if you don’t know it, sorry. Sorry babe!

That’s A Wrap

So what other accessories from Sony are real cool?

The new LCS-WR1AM wrapping cloth, that’s what! I got one in brown. It’s like a bag for your camera, but foldable!

The Japanese are very clever – this might’ve been something from their Origami books!

Here, it wraps a Sony Alpha 900 body with Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) lens and Sony HVL-F58AM flash. Perfect general-purpose combo (which isn’t as chunky as the Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 SSM.)

The ring at the end, is an elastic band that can catch onto the lens. Practice will tell you whether to put the camera more towards the center or towards the sides, so that the elastic band will wrap around the lens nicely.

Here, it wraps a Sony Alpha 900 body with Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) lens and Sony HVL-F20AM flash. Perfect social event/party combo! (Alternatively, a smaller Minolta/Sony 50mm F1.4 can be used…)

Of course, it is not limited to small lenses – here it wraps a Sony Alpha 900 body with Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 lens.

It would’ve fit the Sony HVL-F20AM flash in as well, but the HVL-F58AM flash would not fit, so it would go into its own belt pouch. Which isn’t half bad because you don’t need to carry any camera bags at all! I don’t find it fashionable to be walking around with a huge backpack, looking like a turtle in the process (I’ve always been a fan of sling bags.)

There is, however, the Optimus Prime trailer paradox… where does the cloth go when it’s unwrapped?

Sony’s New Compact Flash!

I got myself the new Sony HVL-F20AM flash!

It’s a quickly-foldable flash that turns off when it is flipped down.

It also turns off the moment you start turning the flash downwards so you can’t use it at a halfway position.

It has a very nice, solid springy snappy feel. You will enjoy the tactile feedback from flipping it! I would say it feels 80% similiar to closing the HVL-F58AM flash stand. It has rubber padding on the front to prevent the A900’s prism head from marking the flash. 🙂

It takes 2 AAA batteries.

When mounted on the Sony Alpha 900 (or any Alpha without a pop-up flash, according to the manual), it can control the Sony F36AM, F56AM, F42AM, and F58AM. However, the F20AM cannot be used as an off-camera flash. This is the first Alpha flash that can’t.

The F20AM cannot control off-camera flashes when mounted on the A100/A200/A230/A300/A330/A350/A380/A700 as far as I know (and according to the manual) but I will update this post if I find that it actually can, tomorrow night…

Fortunately, the pop-up flash of the A100/A200/A230/A300/A330/A350/A380/A700 all can trigger off-camera flashes. So it’s not a functionality that is strongly needed on those cameras anyway!

Off-camera Group Ratios

The F20AM cannot set off-camera group ratios even on the A900 but that is fine by me – ratios would need a complex interface on the back of the flash, like the F58AM, since the Alpha flash ratios are set on the flash and not the body. It’s also meant to be simple to target the A230/A330/A380 market while throwing in a bonus for the A900 crowd.

Bonus Combination!

Nikon has a SU-800 unit which mounts on their flash mount, and triggers off-camera flashes. Nikon also sells a SB-400 flash which is small and can be set to bounce mode.

Canon has a ST-E4 unit which mounts on their flash mount, and triggers off-camera flashes. Canon also sells a 270EX flash which is small and can be set to bounce mode.

However, this Sony HVL-F20AM combines both the trigger unit and small flash into one! If you wanted to use both the SB-800 and SB-400 flash at the same time, you could not! If you wanted to use both the ST-E4 and 270EX flash at the same time, you could not!

Here it is, compared to my Sunpak PF20XD for size. Longer, thinner, just as wide.

There are only 3 switches on the F20AM – the DIRECT/BOUNCE switch, the TELE/WIDE switch and the ON/OFF switch (which is the swivel point.)

Setting the DIRECT/BOUNCE switch to DIRECT sets the flash to point forward, while BOUNCE points it up 75 degrees.

Setting the TELE/WIDE switch to TELE sets the flash zoom head to 35mm APS-C/50mm full-frame, while WIDE pulls a diffuser in front of the flash head, effectively making it 18mm APS-C/27mm full-frame.

Interestingly, and very cleverly, Sony designed it so that when you’re in BOUNCE mode, and you set the TELE/WIDE switch to WIDE, the diffuser ‘skips’ past the flash zoom head so you cannot use BOUNCE and WIDE at the same time. In such a condition it would be the same as BOUNCE and TELE.

That said, you do not need to shoot BOUNCE and WIDE – when you bounce off a ceiling, the distance travelled makes the light spread out widely so it’s already pretty much WIDE. If you use the wide panel diffuser on your other flashes while bouncing the flash off the ceiling, you are just wasting a lot of flash power!

And now, I can finally use my F58AM off-camera on my A900 – previously, I’d have to mount the F58AM on the A900 in order to trigger off-camera flashes! Thank you Sony for saving some wireless functionality for the A900!

Visiting Paul’s

Rewind back to the 1st of March 2009, when I visited Havoq Music Studio.

But first, you gotta go up some stairs…

…past a metal grille door…

…and find, that it is closed.

But aha, there is music upstairs! Obviously, I was not there for Havoq.

Gigger’s Place gets pimped up. I used to call this The New Paul’s Place… and this is one of the earlier places where I used to catch a lot of gigs in 2005, before the New Year Eve’s brouhaha.

Same old red lights.

Same old arm hazard sound console.

Same old smoker’s room (at least they cultivated the habit of making the performance area smoke-free.)

Same old graffiti. The wall that used to hold gig posters seems to hold no more gig posters, which was a weird change.

Same old toilet.

Or worse. I don’t know. We tried not to remember.

Perhaps that was meant to be hand soap?

Same old windows.

Same old skylight.

The noise starts!

It looks like the guy below is being crashed into – not exactly. He was bending down and allowing his friend to use him as a step to flying into the moshpit!

(Kinda like crouching in Counter-Strike and giving your teammate a boost, if you remember that.)

The scene changed a while back – since the raid, the gentler music moved out to safer havens like Jamasia (2005-2008) and then Laundry Bar (2006-now). Here, you kept true, you kept to the core values of hardcore, punk and metal.

I witnessed a new dance move, for spacious moshpits…

I call it the double windmill. The upper body swings back and forth, and so do the legs, just not in synchronization.

Quite fun and funny to watch, really!

This place was featured in KAMI: The Movie, if you remember. I guess it’s different photographing this place with a emphasis on showing how it still looks like the least comfortable music venue as you remember it a few years back, instead of making it look glamorous and safe for kids.

Oh yes, and true to its underground-ness (ironic, when it’s on the rooftop of a shophouse) every bloody band tunes their guitar on stage. The kids sit there with their guitars just waiting for their turn to play. For goodness sake, tune your guitars before going on stage! There is so much time to do so.

That 13-bands-from-afternoon-to-night scene is one I am glad I don’t follow anymore. 13 bands all tuning up on stage (ironically, not playing in tune or time) and the old sound system. It is a wonder, and a great accomplishment, when I see good bands go up on that creaky wooden stage, and they have already tuned their instruments and found the balance between drums and guitar and bass and vocals. They just sound a lot better, despite the sound system.

About every good local band of underground or independent persuasion, has graced the Paul’s Place stage if they ever performed in 2005. (And I have picture proof!) I remember them all sounding good.

Sometime This Year

Marketplace, 22nd February 2009, a place that I haven’t been to in a while.

Tom does acoustic.

Darren of An Honest Mistake. Emo at its best!

Haha I don’t need to play big drums today.

Eve (Oh!) and Rohnie.

LOLcute! (expression, that is.)

When Nick Davis plays his edgier stuff it’s like a fog envelops you.

Yet another ball shot.


Ironically the other person I’d associate with listening to Underoath is Darren’s brother Kevin.

Rafique Rashid shows us how to tune a guitar.

Oh no I don’t remember her name!

Rafique then takes the stage and commands everyone’s attention with his dramatic chords and witty lyrics.

Anuar then commands our attention with some magic!

I can’t remember exactly what this was called – was it a cajon? It had loads of sounds out of one box depending on where you hit it.

This was the first time I’d see a lap steel guitar in real life!

Argh, I don’t remember his name either! I usually annotate these things in my phone but for some reason I didn’t.

A month later, 27th March 2009 to be exact, was (an) Earth Hour gig at Urbanattic, Capsquare.

This was of course Unabashed (with ex-colleague Jason Ding on vocals.)

Urbanattic has nice lights, sometimes.

Like this spotlight on the drummer!

Then after was this Indonesian dude and his band. Again, I forgot to write down his name!

Avril took this, I think.

I also remember this night because George and I took the LRT and drove to Hartamas where I introduced him to Indomee (despite me bumping into him most times in Hartamas…)

Punny Royalty

This morning, I had a revelation.

Some mornings, I miss the company bus, and I head on down to my favorite Chinese kopitiam for some char siew pau (roasted pork bun) and teh susu panas (hot tea with condensed milk at the base.) I usually say “teh” to order. However, the waiter asked what I wanted to drink again, and for some reason, I said teh tarik (pulled hot tea with condensed milk.)

The teh tarik came in a bigger, transparent plastic mug. Teh susu panas however usually comes in a cup with saucer and a little plastic spoon to scoop the condensed milk from the base (heaven!) or to stir it. *

So, I took a sip of the teh tarik… and it tasted the same, and yet felt different. I then realized why – the thickness of the cup made a difference! I definitely paid more attention to the flavor from the cup due to its thinner lip. The spoon’s lip was much thinner and I could taste it. I would scoop some condensed milk from the base, and go “mmm condensed milk… and then some warm tea.

With the teh tarik mug however, it was just “mmm warm tea warm tea warms my throat and my tummy.

I felt like a sommelier (wine expert). Now I understood why wines come in different cups! Perhaps now I shall go on a search for a thin-lipped metal cup for my fix of free office coffee.

* This is why I hate Old Town Kopitiam; their teh susu panas does not come with the conventional condensed milk. Blasphemy!

Walked Into A Catwalk

19th April 2008 – I was at Sungei Wang Plaza and stumbled upon a fashion show!

Man, I miss my Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan.

This was all with the A700.

After a while though, it gets repetitive – you see the same models everywhere at every catwalk.

Such that I wonder, if the models ever feel like robots, merely carrying out the clothes to show… and it’s not like the group of guys who finally get to bring out their expensive telephotos actually care for what is what brand.

Minolta 50mm F1.4 with the 1.4x teleconverter for a soft effect. Also note what happens to the out-of-focus highlights!

Stopped down to F7.1 controls its gauziness.

Ah, heck.

More Random Squibbles About Albert

I have a cup at the office. I wipe it dry and store it at my cubicle every time.

Every time I don’t, and I leave it to dry at the pantry, it will end up at somebody else’s desk. People like my cups! There was one that I won at a Canon Expo, which sat at the cubicle next to mine, for quite a while. I didn’t bother claiming my cup (since I had another free cup at home, so I brought that…)

My second cup made its rounds too. One particular colleague has certain traits, which as of lately, somehow have been noticed in me. It is scary – I wonder if these traits were contagious!

Speaking of contagious, Sunday was not a good day for the flu-fearing like me. I met one too many people who had just gotten off a plane. I don’t know if I am fortunate that we don’t have a complex ghetto hand greeting, or unfortunate that we still shake hands on reflex. Often, I’d find out that they got off a plane after shaking hands.

Nevertheless, I monitor my body temperature – it is interesting to note how you get a bit warmer after waking up, or eating. Or how you can seem rather warm when sitting under a cold air vent and seem alright 30 minutes out of the office.

I bought a book.

I don’t read, really – sure, I buy KLue and ROTTW religiously every month, and read them when I can (possibly, 2-12 months later.) However, I can’t even remember the last book I properly picked up and read. Lord Of The Rings, back in 1998, possibly… I got halfway through the book I think.

I didn’t know I would consume any book until I found this paperback at Borders, Berjaya Times Square – I stood there reading it until almost 10pm. I knew then it was my destiny to buy this book one day. However, I did not cross paths with it again when I started looking – it was not in Borders or MPH! Popular had it… in Penang. I then found it in Times Square, Pavilion.

Scar Tissue, by Anthony Kiedis

His autobiography is pretty much sex, drugs and rock and roll, but written poetically – he is after all a poet. Interestingly, the first half is a lot of Hillel Slovak and a lot of drugs, with probably a quarter of the book for his childhood. A major bonus would be the insights to the lyrics of the songs, and pictures, some of which were uncensored. I’m only up to the point where John Frusciante quit the band, but I know if I pick it up again I will not be able to put it down.

It also helps that the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the first band I ever declared to be my “favorite”. The book realigned my taste for their first three albums – I didn’t pay much attention to the pre-John Frusciante stuff until this book.

And in other news, I am excited about this week’s Moonshine!

What: Moonshine: A Homemade Music Show X Junk Lo-Fideo
When: Thursday 10pm, July 16th 2009
Where: Laundry Bar, The Curve
How Much: Free but buy a drink! Or if you don’t drink, buy me a drink or members of Rhapsody a drink because they have been so gracious to return!
Who: Bite Me Butterfly, The Wongs, Laila, Rhapsody

OMG Rhapsody! I was very sad when this superb jazz/funk/soul/pop group broke up, and now they are back and I feel a bit braver to face the world now that I can pat my favorite Buddha-headed singer and derive spiels of joy from it. Oh and of course Bite Me Butterfly with hot sizzing Sicilian/Malay vocalist Naj! (Laila does not have any hot chicks though, they’re pretty much Laila’s Lounge without the former vocalist.)